My recent visit to Postmasters Gallery made me wonder if I had fallen through some hidden rabbit hole right in the center of Chelsea. Diana Cooper’s work is an intricate balance of simplicity, nature, engineering and modern complexity of form. She is masterful in her ability to reframe familiar objects, textures and scenes in innovative ways. Ever wanted to step into a parallel universe? Cooper’s exhibition is the perfect place to test it out.
In each installation there is something unique that can at once seem so recognizable and yet so completely alien to everything we have ever known, a type of Freudian uncanny. Within seconds of arriving I was enraptured by the spirit of this collection: I could not help but stand still at her NASCAR, Daytona Stadium work with countless seats in vibrant colors. If you look closely enough you will notice the surveillance cameras directed at the seats. We watch on; yes, but who is watching us, I wonder.
I chatted the works up with Paulina Bebecka, one of the gallery employees, and was delighted to discover there were a number of hidden gems scattered throughout the space. Cooper had taken structures within the gallery (surveillance cameras, air vents and even flooring) and recreated them. The most striking of these echo pieces was a photo copy of the actual skylight right above it. It takes a second for your brain to realize this, and once it does it is hard not to try and check every detail to ensure it truly is the same and there is no trickery underfoot.
Oftentimes at exhibitions I am a bit confused about where the artwork ends and the gallery begins, but Cooper cunningly took this feeling to a whole new level. Sadly, many viewers were unaware of these little masterpieces. I actually had to ask one group to kindly remove their feet from one of the floor installations. They looked down in awed surprise that this was in fact part of the exhibit. Cooper’s absolutely ingenious technique was a great way to show people that art is a vital part of the world around us.
One of the most memorable installations in this collection was “Undercover.” I feel confident saying this as I ended up making a few friends at the show and at least three of them ended up right back at this structure. One woman whispered to me, “I don’t know why but I keep coming back to this one…there is something here,” she said as if entranced. I had to agree and made a point to ask the artist about her inspiration for this specific piece. That was easier said than done: when she arrived, after having spent most of the previous night working on the gallery space, I have to admit I was surprised.
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